PAWTUCKET — Sheryl Crow was right. A change would do you good.
Last year, race director Melissa Coutu and her committee for the PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu Memorial 5K Run/Walk made the bold move to separate itself from the Cherry Tree Running Festival and make itself more of a community-oriented event by conducting its own second-annual event at Slater Park.
And the move paid dividends. The race drew over 300 runners and walkers and went a long way toward supporting the now four-year-old PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu Memorial Fund, which has provided scholarships to Tolman High students in post-secondary education.
“We had 308 runners and we had almost 150 sign up on the day of (the race),” reported Gil Tavares, one of the committee members. “We didn’t expect to get that many participants. People who we talked to said that 200 for a first-time race would be pretty good, but when we got 308, that was amazing.”
The Coutu Memorial 5K officially kicks off the summer road racing season in the greater Pawtucket area on Sunday, June 2, at 9 a.m., and it promises to be a bigger and better event than last year’s successful 3.1-mile race.
The event pays tribute to Coutu, a 2009 graduate of Tolman High (who was a football and a wrestling captain) and a U.S. Marine who was killed on Feb. 18, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
The community came out in droves for last year’s race, with more than two-thirds of the field from Pawtucket, and Tavares expects a strong showing from the city again next weekend.
“We’d like to get 350 (participants),” he added. “We did a little more work this year getting the word out. It’s been on the radio, it’s on Facebook. Missy went to the school and talked to the kids about the scholarship and the race, so hopefully that will attract more (participants) and get the kids involved.”
One new aspect to the race will be a giant post-race barbecque for the participants, and this will replace the raffle that took place last year.
“We’ll have burgers, hot dogs, and chips,” said Tavares, who added that a golf tournament benefiting the PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu Memorial Fund will take place on Aug. 5 at Pawtucket Country Club. “Orange Leaf in Seekonk is also going to be on hand to give out samples of frozen yogurt. They’re going to have four different flavors with four different toppings.”
The first 250 participants who register will receive a race “goodie bag” that includes the race t-shirt, coupons (including one from Reebok), and extra goodies, such as a specialized dog tag with Kyle Coutu’s picture on it. The top three male and female finishers will receive cash prizes, and the top finishers in several age groups will also receive awards.
To sign up online, visit www.spitlerracesystems.com . The fee to register is $20 ($25 on race day). For more information, send an email to MCoutu@cox.net .